ESPN's F1 Power Rankings -- Leclerc, Hamilton rise as Vettel plummets further

Ahead of each race in 2019, ESPN is ranking every driver on the grid in our Formula One Power Rankings.

In compiling these standings, we have taken out the car factor and focused solely on the drivers and how each has been performing. This is not a prediction for how the race will go this weekend. Nor is it a prediction for how things will look at the end of the season. Instead, read this as a gauge for who has the most influence over everything that lies ahead, who's hot and who's not ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix.

Previous rankings: Australian GP | Bahrain GP

Note: Teammate head-to-heads are compiled in qualifying sessions in which both drivers set a representative time and in races in which both drivers were classified as finishing.

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

Make absolutely no mistake, Leclerc is the real deal. The 21-year-old was the class of the field throughout the Bahrain Grand Prix and also showed everyone he will not play second fiddle to Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel. A hybrid system failure ultimately cost him a maiden victory, but his breakout performance -- in what's just his second race at the Scuderia -- has highlighted his enormous talent. He arrives in China as the man to beat, it's as simple as that.

2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

I can only imagine Verstappen's results if he were in a Ferrari or Mercedes. His streak of six consecutive podium finishes may have come to an end in Bahrain, albeit only just, but Verstappen once again maximized Red Bull's potential. The Dutchman has wiped the floor with new teammate Pierre Gasly in Australia and Bahrain and heads to Shanghai, the scene of arguably his greatest on-track transgressions of 2018, with a chance to showcase just how much he has matured in the past 12 months. Right now, no driver is extracting more out of his car than Verstappen.

3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

Lewis, go and buy a lottery ticket. Hamilton would be the first to admit he got extremely lucky in Bahrain, but once again he put himself in a position to capitalise on Leclerc's issue and claim a 74th career win. In recent seasons, Hamilton has been somewhat of a slow starter, so the fact he's only one point off the championship lead after two races should really worry his rivals. His untidy race starts -- he's lost places on the run into Turn 1 in Australia and Bahrain -- are holding him off the top two spots at the moment, but it's worth noting his ominous record in China, five wins since 2008.

4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

If you'd offered Bottas the championship lead after two races, he would have jumped at it. His magnificent performance in Melbourne keeps him high in the rankings, but the Finn will be hoping for an improved weekend in China after being outpaced by Hamilton all weekend in Bahrain. Having said that, at no point in 2018 did Bottas score three consecutive podiums, yet he has a chance to do just that if he makes the top three this weekend in Shanghai.

5. Lando Norris (McLaren)

Where did this guy come from!? He's only two races into his Formula One career, but Norris is already turning heads in the paddock. He proved that he's no one-hit wonder in qualifying by backing up his P8 at the Australian Grand Prix with another Q3 appearance in Bahrain, before going on to finish the race an impressive sixth. Sure, he was aided by Renault's double DNF late in the grand prix, but Norris is proving to be more than capable in a Formula One car and a match for teammate Carlos Sainz. Very, very impressive.

6. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)

Age doesn't seem to be slowing down Raikkonen, who is the only driver outside of the top three teams to qualify and finish both of 2019's races inside the top 10. His P7 in Bahrain saw him jump to sixth in the drivers' standings while teammate Antonio Giovinazzi still has yet to open his account. Raikkonen has a solid Chinese Grand Prix record in recent seasons, having finished in the top five in five of the past six races. Maybe Ferrari got rid of the wrong driver at the end of 2018...

7. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

One of the shocks of the Bahrain Grand Prix was the fact Magnussen went backwards at a rapid rate, particularly after he had turned in another supreme lap in Q3 to take sixth on the grid. However, we mustn't forget his superb performance in Melbourne in which he claimed P6 and eight championship points. Just like last year, Magnussen is the form Haas driver in the early stages of the season and is favoured to get the better of Romain Grosjean again.

8. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)

Another shock in Bahrain was seeing Hulkenberg fail to progress out of Q1, but he made up for it with a supreme race (particularly his scintillating opening lap), going from P17 up to sixth before his Renault suffered an engine failure with just three laps to go. It was the second successive race in which the German has shown up new teammate Daniel Ricciardo, and if he keeps it up, not only will he rise up these rankings but the big teams will surely have to take notice. Oh, and last year in China he finished 'best of the rest' in P6.

9. Alexander Albon (Toro Rosso)

What a great year it's turning out to be for rookies. Albon became the first Thai driver to score points in Formula One since 1954 when he finished ninth in Bahrain. It was also the second straight race he had the measure of Toro Rosso teammate Daniil Kvyat in qualifying, setting a Q2 lap that was 0.339s faster than the Russian's. If he keeps it up, it could be very costly for the more experienced Kvyat, who is looking to establish himself back in the sport after a year on the sidelines.

10. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)

Yes, yes, I know what you're thinking; how can a guy with two DNFs make the top 10? Well, Sainz can consider himself pretty unlucky in 2019. He had his engine blow up in Melbourne before suffering a gearbox failure in Bahrain, neither of which was his doing. No doubt Norris has been the more impressive McLaren driver through the opening two rounds, but Sainz has had his moments, particularly P7, and just 0.061s off fifth, in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

11. George Russell (Williams)

He has yet to put a foot wrong so far in his young Formula One career, and that's all you can really ask for a rookie who is driving a car that would barely be competitive in F2. Russell continues to have the edge over Williams teammate Robert Kubica, in fact, only Verstappen, Raikkonen and Russell have qualified and finished both of 2019's races higher than their teammates. If he keeps it up, not only will he rise in these rankings but he might land a competitive seat for 2020.

12. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)

Just one championship point after two rounds doesn't sound like a great start for Perez, but it actually equals his second-best start to a season since 2014. Since Racing Point took over the Force India operation ahead of last year's Belgian Grand Prix, Perez has scored points in eight of 11 races, and last time out in Bahrain he had the edge over teammate Lance Stroll.

13. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)

Uh oh! Two retirements in two races is not quite the way Ricciardo would have hoped to start life at Renault, and he desperately needs a strong weekend in China or the critics will be out in force. Ricciardo is viewed as one of the best drivers in Formula One, but if he continues to be shown up by teammate Hulkenberg, it could be very damaging for his career. A return to China -- where he sensationally won last year -- could be exactly what he needs to rediscover some Danny Ric magic.

14. Romain Grosjean (Haas)

It's really hard to get a read on Grosjean's season. Bahrain wasn't a great weekend for him, with a three-place grid penalty for blocking Norris in qualifying coming his way before he was hit by Stroll in the early stages of the race. The damage from the incident forced him into a lap 17 retirement with floor damage, and as a result he still has yet to open his points account for the season. The only reason he isn't lower is because of his two impressive Saturday performances.

15. Lance Stroll (Racing Point)

He was one of the standouts in the season opener Down Under, but with six straight Q1 exits, I'm sorry, but you don't deserve a place in the top 10. The Canadian lost his front wing on the opening lap in Bahrain and finished ahead of only the Williams drivers. The fact he's never scored points in China means he's pretty cold heading into the weekend.

16. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso)

Kvyat was given a second chance in Formula One, and if he doesn't want to be dumped again, he can't let his far less experienced teammate outperform him. In Bahrain, Albon qualified 0.339s ahead and went on to finish in the points while Kvyat started 15th, was lapped and finished 12th. The point he earned in Melbourne already feels like a long, long time ago, but the one silver lining for Kvyat is he has stood on the podium in China once before.

17. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)

With Raikkonen his teammate and benchmark, Giovinazzi has a chance to impress, but so far he has failed to do so. Bahrain was a rather eventful weekend for the Italian, who was involved in a collision with Hulkenberg on Friday before spinning Kvyat during Sunday's race. He loses further marks for failing to progress from Q1, especially since Raikkonen made Q3 for the second straight race.

18. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

Where do we even begin? The fact Leclerc is already outpacing Vettel in just his second race at Ferrari is a really worrying sign for the German. Vettel never looked a match for his teammate and on lap 38 he threw away a podium by spinning his car and later losing his front wing. 2010 was the last time Vettel missed the podium in both of the first two races, so, as you can see, he is already on the back foot in 2019.

19. Pierre Gasly (Red Bull)

Being teammates with Verstappen is always going to have its challenges, and so far Gasly hasn't been able to unlock the same sort of pace as the Dutchman. If it weren't for the Renault retirements, Gasly would have only scraped into the points. Gasly also has yet to make an appearance in Q3, and the pressure is well and truly on for him to perform sooner rather than later.

20. Robert Kubica (Williams)

If you're the only driver to be lapped three times in Australia and the only driver to be lapped twice in Bahrain, I'm sorry, but there's only one place for you on the Power Rankings. In order for Kubica to rise, he's going to need to show he can at least match his inexperienced teammate who only has two races worth of Formula One experience under his belt.